A hospitality VAR’s persistence in finding the right POS solution for a growing hospitality customer leads to a successful implementation and 15 follow-up sales.
Marketplace Business Solutions is a retail-focused VAR with a strong concentration in the hospitality market where it sell s POS, digital signage, IP video surveillance, and networking solutions, as well as custom software development services. Within its wide range of IT offerings, the VAR has seen an uptick in mobile POS sales over the past year and says mobile POS now comprises 20 percent of its overall revenue. “It’s not a fit for every business, but more clients are asking about it,” says Vince Jarbo, owner of Marketplace Business Solutions. “It was one of our existing clients that played a key role in the upsurge in sales we’ve experienced over the past 12 months.”
Long Checkout Lines Leave Customers, Wait Staff Frustrated
Uptown Grill is a popular restaurant in southeastern Michigan that includes three themes within its 14,000-square-foot facility, including a deli, sports bar/ night club, and a casual dining area. The restaurant’s Maitre’D POS system works fine for normal business hours, but on busy evenings, the wait staff is stuck waiting in long lines to check out customers. “Due to the restaurant’s popularity and growing customer base, the problem grew worse,” says Jarbo. Marketplace Business Solutions worked with the restaurant owner to add additional POS terminals throughout the restaurant, but the impact on the client’s wait staff during busy evenings was minimal. Something else was needed.
The Right Mobile POS Solution Is Needed
After following up with the customer and discussing the client’s business challenges, the VAR talked to the business owner about considering a mobile POS solution. “The restaurant owner was open to the idea and felt that equipping the wait staff with handhelds could eliminate the long wait times,” recalls Jarbo.
Jarbo points out, however, that implementing a mobile POS solution entails much more than simply selecting handhelds, loading POS software, and turning the wait staff loose to start taking customer orders. And, understanding the planning and details that go into a mobile POS solution is essential to ensuring a successful deployment. “The first thing we needed to address was their wireless network,” he says. “They were considering using a consumer-based wireless network based on the advice of a competitor, but we explained all of the reasons this wouldn’t be a good choice for their needs. Consumer access points aren’t designed to accommodate a business’ traffic needs, plus the restaurant needed a higher level of security to ensure customers’ credit card data was protected and met PCI [Payment Card Industry] compliance standards.”
With the client’s approval, Marketplace Business Solutions conducted a site survey and strategically placed eight Ubiquity wireless access points throughout the facility. “The Power over Ethernet [PoE] access points form a wireless mesh connection, which is like a spider web of wireless coverage that ensures a strong wireless signal everywhere within the restaurant,” says Jarbo. “Additionally, the access points are all wirelessly connected to a Dell SonicWALL firewall and Ubiquity access control appliance, which allows us to optimize the power and channel settings for each access point.”
Marketplace Business Solutions also configured a separate guest Wi-Fi network on the system to allow the restaurant’s customers to connect to the Internet. “The wireless controller allows the client to implement guest security policies, including requiring guests to agree to terms and conditions before using their service and even limiting an individual guest’s time spent on the network and/or bandwidth usage,” says Jarbo.
owner, Marketplace Business Solutions
After setting up the wireless network, Marketplace Business Solutions installed the Maitre’D mobile POS software on a few handheld devices to allow the client to pilot the solution before making a final decision. “The feedback from the business owner was that the servers just didn’t like using the handhelds,” recalls Jarbo. “The problem with handhelds is that the small screen size requires the user to scroll through multiple menus and press a lot of buttons to find what they’re looking for. This just wasn’t practical for this client’s busy work environment.”
After following up again with the restaurant owner, the VAR knew exactly what the client needed. “We recommended they should try HP ElitePad 900 tablets,” says Jarbo. “The tablets’ larger screen displays and Windows 8 OS allow us to install the same full version of their POS software with no modifications.”
One Successful Tablet POS Install Leads To 15 More Opportunities
The VAR configured several tablets with the Maitre’D POS software plus mag-stripe readers and print drivers to enable wireless receipt printing to Epson printers. “The tablet POS solution was a huge hit with the wait staff because it required no reconfiguring of their menu or ordering features, and it addressed the client’s business challenges,” says Jarbo. “The wait staff could take customer orders at the table, easily add on items throughout customers’ meals, and swipe customers’ credit cards without leaving the table.”
Within a month of completing the rollout of the tablet POS solution, which included 12 wireless tablets, eight access points, and four receipt printers, the client reported several benefits. “They experienced a 30 percent improvement in the speed of their service during busy nights, and server ordering mistakes dropped by 50 percent because servers had to rely less on handwriting or remembering add-on orders,” says Jarbo
The big win for Marketplace Business Solutions continued well after the initial implementation. Prior to the mobile POS implementation at Uptown Grill, the VAR had several other customers that were hesitant about going mobile. “Taking them to the Uptown Grill and letting them see for themselves how this solution works overcame their reservations,” says Jarbo. “Since completing the Uptown Grill project a year ago, we’ve sold tablet POS solutions to 15 other customers.”